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Leaders Sometimes Allow the Wrong Things Into Their Organizations
I was totally taken aback this past Sunday at church. My family and I trracism.jpgaveled out of town to visit relatives and went to church with them as their special guest. I had only been here once before for the funeral service of my sister-in-law's father, so I was little familiar with my surroundings and pretty comfortable. What I wasn't comfortable with or prepared for was the day's events on what should have been a time of thankfulness and reflection on Resurrection Sunday. The pastor of the church allowed a well-known racist to come up and give his testimony about his former life of racism, hatred and bigotry and his appeal to the church family to stop this nonsense. This day created a memory for me that I shall not soon forget.


Let me paint the picture for you: The man giving the testimony was Caucasian, about 50-55 years of age, 5 feet 5 inches tall (or so), slightly overweight at perhaps 275 pounds (he stated in his testimony that he had already lost over 150 pounds), a long blond beard and mustache and a thick Southern accent. He had on denim jeans and a red and blue checkerboard shirt complete with hiking boots with his belly hanging over his jeans. If it seems like I'm about to profile, it's because I am. Why? Because it's conducive to how he portrayed himself to us and how we all perceived him.


Now first let me also say that this brother said he was not a practicing racist any longer. He had been changed through the love that was shown by the church members there. Good for him. But what I took issue with was how graphic he made his testimony about the things he used to do to people of other races, how he and the "good 'ol boys" would have lots of hog-tying fun minus the hogs and what he thought folks of other races could do for him, like wash his car and shine his shoes. That was the extent of what he felt other races were worth. And, he was saying this to a church that was predominantly African-American. There may have been 10-15 other Caucasian people in the audience.


The minister of the church felt compelled to have this man give his testimony to show the good example of what the love of God can do for someone. While I totally agree with the pastor, I don't agree with the way this man was presented and with the obvious disregard for the non-editing that was done with his testimony before he gave it to us. With using terms like “colored folk”, “darkies” and that dreaded, offensive word (that I won’t even dare to write, but I’m sure you know what I’m saying), many people in the audience were in utter shock and disbelief at how he was so cavalier in saying such hurtful words. Why would the leader of the church allow this?


I’m a big believer in being real and honest. However, I do take issue with being appropriate. The reformed racist went on to say how he is on a mission to eradicate racism wherever it may be. He exhorted the church to make a stand against outright racism and not allow anyone around you to do it. He told the church to stop practicing racism (if they were) and to agree to covenant with other people of other races to stop it as well. He went on to say that the nation is not going to heal until racism is stopped and people abort their hatred thoughts and patterns of behavior. I agree. He’s right on all points. But perhaps he should have been giving his talk to members of other color persuasions who use such terms and who practice racism more openly and frequently than the folks he was talking to.


I think the church’s pastor made a grave mistake by allowing this man to speak at his church this Sunday. I think leaders should be totally aware of how something is going to affect their organization and try to minimize confusion wherever they can, not bring it directly to the feet of the people.


Do you think a reformed racist has any business addressing an audience of the very people that he was racist against by using derogatory, racist and hurtful remarks to make his point? Is it even necessary to be that openly blunt in order to say what needs to be said?


I really, really want to know what you think.




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